Years ago a friend and I saw a commercial for a local restaurant that looked like it was made in my backyard. The name of the place was the Pirate Restaurant and Nightclub. The commercial ended with a budget blowing special effects masterpiece, a wooden pirate that would greet you at the door winked. Intrigued, my friend and I had an affinity for all things weird and potentially horrible, had to find this place (which wasn't hard because it was practically down his street) and experience the winking pirate ourselves. One catch, it was a Polish restaurant which added to the craziness because we were both pretty sure Poland was landlocked. You were thinking it was seafood, right? Logically so. Wrong!
Curiosity got the best of us and within days, we found ourselves in the green leather booths eating kielbasa , perogies and borscht on lacquered tables showing various bits of buried pirate treasure while techno music thumped from the nightclub upstairs. This fit the weird and quirky bill perfectly. We went back a couple of time, the place would get weirder and weirder. There was never more than just us in in the restaurant and a stray drunk or two in the bar but the nightclub upstairs looked like it attracted any and all of the sketchiest members of a Polish mob.
And then, one day, the Pirate just closed down. Nothing ever took its spot. Nobody ever came to take down the black awnings that simply said The Pirate. It just stood empty. When I started dating my husband years ago, we would sometimes drive past The Pirate and I would tell him the stories. And talking about the enigma that he would never get to experience made it a lot like folklore. As years passed, I never once stopped hoping that when we passed, the lights would be on and The Pirate would be open.
A week or so before Christmas, as if it was a Christmas miracle, we drove by and The Pirate was open for business. I let out many shrieks of excitement. I immediately called my friend to tell him of this miracle. After getting gas, I made The Hubs drive by it again just so I could make sure. There it was, in all its glory, brightly lit, neon beer European beer signs illuminating the windows and void of customers. Just like I remembered. When did this happen? I passed by the place a few times in the past few months and I swear it was still closed. But, not one to look a gift horse in the mouth, I reveled in the fact that The Pirate was back.
It took about a month before we could get there for dinner but last night was the night. It was almost funny how cautiously The Hubs walked through the door like I spent 4 years making him think this place was closed but tonight all his friends would jump out and yell "surprise!" even tho his birthday is 6 months away. "Is the wooden pirate still there?" I asked. He was. Poised by the door like I left him. We walked past the angry drunks at the bar and into the dining room which actually had a decent amount of people in it. It was like stepping into a time warp. Everything was exactly the same. Like they just dusted everything and opened up the doors. I had to go to the bathroom and look in the mirror to make sure this was 2009 and I was married and pregnant. The only thing new was a giant plastic crab in the bathroom that scared the daylights out of me. I don't remember it being there before but I'm not so sure I ever came there sober so it is possible I missed it.
After perusing the menu and deciding, the waitress came over to take our order. The Hubs got the Polish sampler and I got the Pirate pork burger. The waitress (who was our waitress years ago) seemed a bit disappointed in my choice. "Why don't you get something more Polish" she suggested. I wanted to tell her that I tried just about everything Polish on their menu and seeing as this burger was pork and not beef, I was sure they would find some way to Polish it up.
By the time our food came out, I was sure I aged another year. Understandable tho' I was on a pirate ship. Stew's sampler looked just as I remembered except instead of a chunk of kielbasa, they now give you some kielbasa and kraut mixture. However, my burger looked completely unlike anything I have ever seen. It was sorta roundish like a semi-flattened meatball that someone put Shake-n-Bake coating on. It was smothered in horseradish sauce and the french fries looked one knotch above "just about cooked."
"Well, here goes nothin'" I said before biting into my "burger" and feeling the weirdest sensation in my mouth. Beneath the coating was pork ground into the mushy consistency of falaffel except softer and juicier cooked to the comfortably molten temperature of 7,000 degrees. The Hubs cleaned his plate before my "burger" cooled to a tolerable temperature. The waitress barely came over to check on us but that was okay because every time she did, we ended up having some half baked conversation with her and getting non-sensical answers in broken English.
I had to ask tho. "Excuse me, is the nightclub still upstairs?" I figured it wasn't since it was now 9 on a Friday night and I did not hear a single beat of Polish Techno above my head.
"No," She said, "We use it as our party room."
"Oh," I said, "I just remembered there was a nightclub upstairs."
"I don't," she said and scurried away.
"Apparently, what happens in The Pirate Nightclub stays in The Pirate Nightclub," The Hubs said.
And with good reason, I thought.
On the way home, we complained how stuffed we were. Of course, that was not stopping us from going to our next destination, Cold Stone Creamery.
"Lulu, what was that log I ate?" The Hubs asked.
"The thing with sauce? Stuffed cabbage. Wait a sec, you ate an unidentified log without asking me or knowing what it was even AFTER you tasted it?" A true sea adventurer.